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They Told Us To Move: Dakota—Cassia

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  102 ratings  ·  13 reviews
What happens when an entire community is moved?

Dakota Crescent was one of Singapore's oldest public housing estates and a rental flat neighbourhood for low-income households. In 2016, its residents—many of whom are elderly—were relocated to Cassia Crescent to make way for redevelopment. To help them resettle, a group of volunteers came together and formed the Cassia Reset
Paperback, 1, 268 pages
Published 2019 by Ethos Books
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ash | spaceyreads
The Cassia Resettlement Team has done amazing work - from befriending the residents of Dakota to ensure their individual needs are met to research and advocacy for the inclusion of persons excluded from the system. They did it quietly, but proudly. They had a strong ethos and believed in their work. And that shows from the book, put together with purpose and care, making sure the Dakota-Cassia relocation is documented down. And when you document something, people can continue to know and underst ...more
Jan 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Written in the style of interviews followed by reflection pieces of the volunteers who were a part of the team which worked with the residents. A lot of repeated themes, and gave me a greater understanding of the situations which these residents face living in rental units, but was not as enlightening as This is What Inequality Looks Like nor did it feel as well-written.

Favourite Quotes:

"Tong, it seems, had internalised a narrative far too common in a society that glorifies self-reliance and in
Feb 11, 2021 rated it liked it
This is a compilation of interviews, ethnographic insights, and sociology essays reflecting on key phrases and themes captured by the interview data. It’s a decent book that explores the disruption and transition process that Dakota residents (often elderly and definitely low-wage) had to endure when forced by the authorities to relocate. Texts like these are important to help us gain perspective on life in singapore beyond our immediate social group, which is often warped and makes us take our ...more
Sep 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: singapore
This is an important book of my colleague Ng Kok Hoe at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, which aims to shed light on one side of the Singapore's public housing experience that is often unmentioned. It does so telling the stories of hardship of those people who had the greatest challenges in adapting to the public housing policies. It is important to recognize these voices, first because ignoring them is adding more hardship to these people's lives. Seco ...more
Kirat Kaur
Jun 28, 2020 rated it liked it
These days there’s so much emphasis placed on the ever-changing face of Singapore and its ever-moving classes, so this book is a necessary reminder that even in this city that’s perpetually moving, there are people rooted to a sense of place and time who cannot be ignored or forgotten. It felt like a privilege to hear from residents of Dakota Crescent themselves what the place meant to them and how they felt about their relocation. There was also a lot of valuable context about the evolution of ...more
Quan Sheng
Jul 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members."

In Singapore, decades of strong economic growth have resulted in a rapid rise in living standards for the vast majority of its citizens - a burgeoning middle class, high levels of educational attainment and literacy, and occupational stability in the form of homeownership. But what about those left behind?

Through the lens of personal realities; the stories of the elderly poor and low-income rental flat r
May 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
It's unfair to say if I like or dislike this book. I think it doesn't intend to be liked or love, it perhaps intends to teach interested but still unaware readers like myself.

I learnt a lot! Highly recommended!

My favourite quote:
“An economy of gratitude can generate an oppression of goodwill. Channelling resources into things and programmes which do not address current unmet needs is not only wasteful, but also oppressive” (Ad Maulod, 112)
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
This book was a difficult read. The conversations in this book can be uncomfortable and jarring; yet, it is also a beautiful sociological analysis of identifying the general from the particular or as Teo You Yenn says "seeing a story to get to a case".

Each chapter of the book is arranged in a similar structure: an interview with a resident in Dakota, a reflection by a social worker and an analysis by an academic.

The interviews with the residents are significant as they give a personal recount o
Jun 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
There's something magical about how rooted humans are to their surroundings and environment, and these interviews and analysis captured this somewhat amorphous bittersweetness so well. It stirred up nostalgic feelings of my own experiences with neighbouring flats en-blocing, and gentle reflections about what I'd like to preserve in my own surroundings. There's obviously a more historical and analytical element to the interviews for those looking for it, but I think the beauty of this book lies i ...more
Md Ashik
Feb 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A riveting and engaging collection of multiple voices. Prof Ng takes curious readers to the very physical community as they listen to the unique stories by many who call the place a home. Through the heartfelt sharings, the book probes the readers to rethink a citizen-centric policy design and sensible engagement of residents - a blatant contrast to the cold and ordered displacement - in relocating persons from their homes to their new houses.
Ben Wong
Mar 29, 2020 rated it it was ok
Sadly didnt get much out of this book.
Feb 24, 2022 rated it it was amazing
This book was so so so beautifully written and encapsulated all the stories and memories of dakota.
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